Autolux. Corecraft, Secret Machines
Irving Plaza, 3.7.05
Last minute Ave/ D bus bolt to Irving Plaza after a call from Alex of Prosolar Mechanics to check out Autolux.
Autolux is a trio. They knocked out appealingly noisy, introverted-but-social grooves made out of elements that were simplified at every turn. The tasty drummer held back her chops, using traditional grip. All of them were resisting complexity, or sneaking it in tiny micro-dilutions. You feel the invisible hand of complexity pressurizing the songs from the outside like homework you’re blowing off for now but intending to do. It's like the band was saying: "no, this is all you should need." I've been wondering when someone was going to pick up on the Sonic Youth side of the 80s historical blender we've apparently set to frappe. Here you go. They were literally looking at their shoes for the whole concert.
The songs were consistent. I think they suffered from opening band bad-mix-itous. not enough mid-to high end tonalities, too much bass, vocals too low. Listening to the CD would tell me more. Anytime they brought the higher guitar tones up, or doubled the vocals the whole horizon of the song would shift from quite good to great. I wish they had done more of this. I guess there is a kind of tacit agreement in certain bands to not think too much about structure and contrast, as a kind of perceived implicit resistance to certain social strucures? They brought their own Christmas lights mounted to cardboard squares. Does it seem insane to be from LA playing music like this?
Corecraft is a J. Mascis's group, a drummerless free-rock improv thing, more like something you might hear at ABC NO RIO at the Sunday night COMA series than Irving Plaza: bass, flute, slide guitar, guitar, tape loops.
I had listened to Dinosaur Jr. all through the 80s, esp. Bug and You're Living All Over Me, but had never seen them live. Mascis, with shocking, long, totally white-gray hair, sat for the whole set. His guitar tone, when it came to the surface for air, was piercing and rich. The sound man, big surprise, didn’t understand what to do with the flute.
Messy one-chord swells and ebbs. Everyone half-thinking about the other players, half trying to hold their own direction down no matter what. Mixed feelings about independance, competition, collaboration, and collectivity: it can be like that. There were maybe three swells which where marvelous -- stoner rock meets Phil Niblock. The high volume level brought out all the crazy undulating partial interactions in the drone. The ebbs were like places you have to go before you get to where you want to be -- musical bus stations, and too much of set consisted of this mode. If this band had a heavy drummer behind it, and sounded like the high moments the whole time, it would be mind-boggingly great.
I always get as much information about the music by turning around and reading the faces of the audience as I get from listening. I had no idea what to expect, since the audience here was way too young to remember Dinosaur Jr. I assumed they would hear this as an odd or laughable hippy stoner noise anomaly? What I saw was fatigue, yes, but also curiosity of a kind I don't always associate with rock shows. Sometimes the social style affiliation with bands shows itself as a closed off, competitive kind of excitement -- no trace of that left here, it had been erased. Also no bewilderment, which is what I expected.
Secret Machines light show was better than the music. I went home after the 2nd song.